Words, wise or otherwise, about wine

Uva Mira Chardonnay

This post first appeared as a guest article on one of the wine world’s most entertaining and thoughtful blogs – Quaffable

Given the fine literary talents usually displayed by Mr Quaffable, it is quite a daunting prospect to rise to the challenge of writing a guest blog. Stick to what you know would probably be good advice, but this is a wine blog and not an aviation blog. OK, perhaps I know a little bit about wine but is any of it interesting or vaguely entertaining? After all, I don’t want Quaffable’s blog ratings to plummet – it’s a competitive world in the wine blog arena and it might be nice to be invited back some day.

Tell a story perhaps? Hmmm, well they all start with a bottle of wine and usually end up with me not remembering what happened between the second bottle being opened and waking up in another familiar hotel room on the network. Although I’m pretty sure I would have managed to solve many of Cathay Pacific’s rostering, pilot pay and recruitment issues during the course of the evening. There would undoubtedly also have been perfect solutions to the problems of bankers’ bonuses, the Euro and world peace.  Throw a bunch of pilots together, add wine, all your problems solved!

Right, back to wine it is then, why on earth does somebody with a reasonably well paid job decide to start up a business importing South African wines? We all know that the wine business is sewn up by the big boys, there’s cut-throat competition, miniscule margins, import duty, VAT, large upfront costs, and of course there’s only a small niche market that is interested in anything other than Jacob’s Creek or First Cape.

The answer is passion. A passion that develops from the instant that you taste a wine that utterly blows you away.  A wine that unexpectedly takes you by surprise with its elegance, mineral purity and complex depth of flavour. That wine is Uva Mira Chardonnay.

Stellenbosch may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of elegant Chardonnays, but Stellenbosch includes the picturesque Helderberg mountain which rises majestically above the plain with panoramic views to Cape Town. Uva Mira is located at the top of this mountain, above Hidden Valley and Ernie Els and stares down to Ken Forrester’s Chenin Blanc FMC vineyard. The Chardonnay vineyards are at an average elevation of about 1700 feet and this provides a cooler climate enabling chardonnay grapes to retain their freshness, elegance and mineral focus. Restricted yields of 32hl/ha, careful handling and hand sorting are all part of winemaker Matthew van Heerden’s fanatical approach to quality.

Fermentation is in new, lightly toasted, French oak with the occasional batonnage and a small amount of the wine is allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation for some added complexity.

Meeting the winemaker Matthew van Heerden earlier this year

Returning back to the UK after tasting this stunning wine I was amazed to see that it wasn’t available anywhere. Why hadn’t this wine been discovered? I still don’t know the answer to that question but a few phone calls and emails later and I had started a new business, invested a sum of money that caused some ‘discussion’ with my wife and Vincisive was born, importing the wines of Uva Mira as their UK agent. The worst thing that could happen would be being left with a pallet of fantastic wine that I would have to drink by myself, now wouldn’t that be a shame!

Fortunately, I’m not alone in thinking it’s a great wine. Take Neal Martin for example,

The palate is very well balanced with a delicate entry that expands beautifully across the palate with notes of orange peel and subtle apricot. It is both long and vibrant in the mouth with a palpable sense of tension. This Chardonnay exudes thoughtful winemaking and is highly recommended. 94 points

With reviews like this, my stash of fine Chardonnay that I can keep to myself is getting smaller. Production is limited to 800 cases a year so it’s not easy to secure a bigger allocation. However, I’m prepared to make the sacrifice as wine this good should be shared and enjoyed by a wider audience! Passion for wine is something that cannot be indulged in alone, it needs to be articulated, debated, discovered and above all enjoyed. I look forward to having that conversation with you over a glass of South Africa’s finest Chardonnay!

You can find Uva Mira Chardonnay at Vincisive


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